Fracture-Induced Permeability in Whitby Mudstone

Maartje E. Houben, Jasmijn C.M. van Eeden, Auke Barnhoorn, Suzanne J.T. Hangx

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleScientificpeer-review

6 Citations (Scopus)
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Shale host rock and containment potential are largely determined by the connected pore network in the rock, and the connection between the pore network and the naturally present or mechanically induced fracture network together determines the total bulk permeability. Pore connectivity in shales is poorly understood because most of the porosity is present in sub-micrometer-sized pores that are connected through nanometer-sized pore throats. We have used a number of different techniques to investigate the microstructure and permeability of Early Jurassic shales from the UK (Whitby Mudstone), under intact and fractured conditions. Whitby Mudstone is a clay matrix-rich rock (50-70%), with different mineralogical layers on the sub-millimeter scale and very low natural permeability (10-19 to 10-22 m2), representative of many gas shales and caprocks present in Europe. Artificial fracturing of this shale increases its permeability by 2-5 orders of magnitude at low confining pressure (5 MPa). At high confining pressures (30 MPa), permeability changes were more sensitive to the measuring direction with respect to the bedding orientation. Given the distinct lack of well-defined damage zones, most of the permeability increase is controlled by fracture permeability, which is sensitive to the coupled hydro-chemo-mechanical response of the fractures to fluids.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)9564-9572
Number of pages9
JournalEnvironmental science & technology
Issue number15
Publication statusPublished - 2020

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